Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Introducing B-Line and express bus service, ridership soars; Trolley bus ridership down.

Yesterday, I posted about TransLink’s first quarter results. One of the things I noted was that generally ridership was up in the South of Fraser and down in Vancouver. I was curious to see if there were any patterns that might provide some insight into these changes in ridership. I look at TransLink's latest Bus Service Performance Review.

The first major pattern I noticed was that people seem to value express bus service. For example, in Surrey the 320, 321, and 394 provided frequent bus service along the King George Boulevard/104th Avenue Corridor. In 2012, these routes had a combined annual boarding of 6,221,000. With the introduction of the 96 B-Line, which is an express bus service that covers this corridor, ridership did drop on some of the local routes, but overall annual boarding along that corridor was 8,224,000. This is a 25% increase!

In Langley, with the introduction of the 555 express bus route that goes between Carvolth Park & Ride and SkyTrain, overall annual boarding on routes between Walnut Grove and SkyTrain increase by 30% of the last few year.

In Vancouver, I noticed that annual ridership continues to climb on the 99 B-Line, which serves the Broadway corridor to UBC, even while ridership on some routes that serve UBC slightly declined.

One of the big things I noticed about Vancouver was that bus routes that terminate or go through Downtown had the largest drops in ridership. In fact, ridership seems to be dropping on all the electric trolley routes more that diesel bus routes. While many bus routes go through Downtown Vancouver, I wonder if there is a connection there. It certainly warrants further investigation.

One of the key take-aways seems to be that people prefer express bus service, even if it means walking a bit further to a bus stop.

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